The Journal of Toxicological Sciences recently published very interesting results on the effects that methamphetamine, or commonly known in South Africa as “Tik”, has on fruit flies and how this relates to humans.
The study showed that the majority of the fruit flies that were given tik were dying of starvation, it also showed that the drug has a negative effect on metabolism and behavior that can lead to anorexia induced deaths. The drug causes the flies and people for that matter to increase their physical exertion while decreasing their food intake.
The reason that fruit flies were chosen to do this experiment on, is because the drug seems to have the same toxicological effect on them as it does on us. The researchers revealed that the flies would die slower if given glucose or other metabolic precursors, they went further and said that meth users are known to crave sugary drinks while under the influence of the drug and this shows that their sugar metabolism is also affected by tik.
The results in the Toxicology journal showed that Tik use doubles the movement of the flies and reduced their food consumption by 60 to 80 percent. This is similar to what happens in humans for whom amphetamines can cause a rise in physical exertion and a fall in appetite – essentially meth addicts are starving due to using up more calories than they are able to consume.
The study showed that although meth has many harmful effects on animals organs, the most damaging effect is has is the meth induced anorexia which will lead to a deficit in calories. This is likely the primary factor in meth related deaths.
By adding sugar to the flies diet, the researchers were able to prolong the life of the flies. They were unable to determine why the sugar content was helping to reduce the mortality rate, however, they speculated that it may be due to the sugar either increasing the flies energy reserves or lessening the toxicity of the meth.